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Local councils "don't follow the law" to fight homelessness

Published tisdag 29 november 2016 kl 13.47
Stadsmissionen: Over half don't do it
(3:07 min)
An increasing number of families with low incomes and pensioners are turning to charities for help against homelessness, according to Stadsmissionen.
An increasing number of families with low incomes and pensioners are turning to charities for help against homelessness, according to Stadsmissionen. Credit: FANNI OLIN DAHL / TT

Over half of Sweden's municipalities are breaking the law when they don't have a strategy for how to provide housing to all their inhabitants, according to an organisation working against homelessness.

According to Swedish housing law, municipalities must have a strategy, or some guidelines, that are updated every 4 years, for how they will deal with housing for all segments of society. But a survey carried out by the organisation Stockholms Stadsmission has found that many municipalities do not follow these rules.

"As many as 52 percent of the municipalities do not do it," says Marika Hjelm Siegvald, head of communications at Stockholms Stadsmission.

An updated strategy is where the municipalities analyse the local housing situation, look at the existing housing situation and plan ahead for building new housing.

"If they don not update them, they cannot have an active policy in housing, and then cannot work rapidly to meet the needs of people in homelessness for instance," says Hjelm Siegvald.

Stadsmissionen would like to see some kind of sanction - for example the threat of a fine - against municipalities that do not take this seriously and follow the law.

On Tuesday, the organisation presented its annual report into homelessness, and they warn that the picture of who is homeless is changing. Not only are there more people homeless, but it is also partly different people from in the past.

"In addition to homeless people with mental illness and addiction problem, that we have seen among the homeless for a while, is a now also a group of new people with another problem, and that is that they have a rather low income, and that is that they cannot find housing, or cannot afford housing," said Marika Hjelm Siegvald.

The last time the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) made an estimate of how many people were homeless in Sweden were in 2011. Then they found that approximately 34,000 people were homeless in Sweden. A new estimate will not be done until next year.

Stadsmissionen finds this is too seldom, not least considering how much the homelessness has changed in only a few years.

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